September 24, 2013

Using phoneme-specific workbooks to become more efficient

I am making a conscious effort to work smarter, not harder, this year. As part of this goal, I am also exploring ways to become more efficient. One thing that I realized always ate up a lot of time with my articulation groups was to get each student started with the right worksheet (find the right folder/book/worksheet, pull it out, practice, then put it back). This is of course especially detrimental to those kids who only get to see me for 30 minutes per week. I hate wasting their time! 
So what I came up with this year is the development of phoneme-based articulation books. Each of these books contains all my favorite worksheets for one particular speech sound and is organized by word position. I have trialed this idea for /r/.
The finished result - kids love the rainbow cover!
Here is how I did it:
  1. I gathered all of my favorite worksheets for the target sound.
  2. I then organized them by word-position
  3. I copied this packet front to back several times (4 times in my case)
  4. I found colored construction paper (multiple colors), trimmed it to regular paper size, and laminated it. These are my “dividers” (although you can use real ones if you have them.
  5. I separated the sound sections (e.g. initial, medial, final, blends) with the construction paper.
  6. I bound the book together.
  7. Do this for each book.  

Sample pages.


We are fortunate in that we have a spiral binding machine and a laminator at my school, so I was able to put this together quite nicely. However, a binder and dividers would work perfectly fine for this as well! That way you can add on to your book more easily as you get new materials.
The subsections contained in my /r/-books are as follows:
  • minimal pairs & /r/ at the syllable level
  • /r/ initial
  • /r/ final
  • /r/ medial
  • /r/ blends
  • vocalic /r/
  • mixed worksheets
  • short stories for reading practice
Each section gets increasingly more complex, starting with single word level worksheets and ending at the sentence level.
Now all I need to do when my /r/ kids arrive is pull out a copy of the book for each student, open it to the word-position they are working on, and have them start practicing. Because the dividers are different colors, I can quickly find the right section:

An additional perk is that my students really like these books! I have had several students ask if they could “take the book home” (and one of them absolutely hates practicing her /r/ sound!). I think the kids see it as a giant coloring book! But if it gets them to practice, it's all good.
These books have been an amazing tool so far, and my plan is to do this for other high-frequency sounds, as well. The initial making of the book took a while, but I think in the end it will be worth it. Give it a try!


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